Charli XCX fans all over the world exhaled in unison on Thursday (June 13) when the pop singer-songwriter announced her long-awaited album, Charli. The album announcement came along with the release of the set’s provocative cover art, and a long list of tour dates across the U.S. and U.K. for later in the year.
Charli will be the artist’s first official album in almost six years, since 2014’s Sucker, but that doesn’t mean she’s been quiet. Since then, Charli has released two mixtapes, along with an EP and a handful of one-off tracks, and a lot of those tracks came with some memorable features. She went back to “1999” with Troye Sivan, sang about “Girls” with Rita Ora, Bebe Rexha, and Cardi B, and even joined K-pop sensation BTS for “Dream Glow.” Additionally, Pop 2’s stunning finale, originally known as “Track 10” when it was released back in 2017, was re-worked to become the Lizzo-featuring “Blame It on Your Love,” all while the nostalgia-loving party girl was teaming up with Diplo and Herve Pagez for a sizzling redo of Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.”
Collaborations look good on Charli. With a heavy background in songwriting, she knows how to work around a good tune and arrange it so that all voices are complementary. She’s managed to shine next to some of the biggest names in pop, while also holding responsibility for introducing us to some of our new favorite artists. ‘Cause everyone’s talking about lifting each other up these days, but Charli is one of the few who is actually taking action.
Charli is set to arrive on Sept. 13 via Atlantic Records and will offer up 14 features across 15 tracks. The track list itself is amping us up with anticipation so while we wait, we’re rounding up Charli’s 10 best collaborations (so far).
10. “Fancy” (by Iggy Azalea)
Charli teamed up with Azalea back in 2014 for what would soon become an iconic video for a nearly inescapable song. Along with “I Love It,” it was the song that helped the world get familiar with Charli’s bratty vocals. Everyone can picture her screaming the top of the hook: “I’m so fancy, you already know!” as soon as they think of it. It’s no wonder why she became an instantly recognizable voice in pop.
9. “Dream Glow” with BTS
It made sense for Charli to finally make her BTS Army debut, as she’s already written for K-pop group, Twice, earlier this year. She also joked that she was a new member of BTS all the way back in 2017. While it’s not the mind-blowing, over-the-top track we’d expect, that’s actually why we love it so much. After repurposing a Charli demo from 2016, the result is a shimmering track finished with a honey glaze, sounding just like its title.
8. “Doing It” featuring Rita Ora
Charli has collaborated with Ora on “Girls” and a remix of “After the Afterparty,” but there’s something about the 2014 Sucker track that really manages to stick. It has one of those hooks that just hits the spot. It feels like if the chorus was stuck on repeat, no one would really mind. It could just continue swirling around in our heads forever and ever — and isn’t that what every great pop song should be?
7. “Tears” (feat. Caroline Polachek)
No song better encapsulates the immediate frustration during a break-up than this. With the help of producer A.G. Cook, sharp, metallic sounds create a harsh jolt as Charli and Caroline Polachek (Chairlift) add insult to injury with gut-wrenching lyrics, “Say your name so nervously now/ Kiss in the hallway, fade out/ Tears are rollin’ down my face.” The over-dramatic lyric “fade out” creates a cartoonish image while, if you listen closely, Polacheck lets out a prolonged scream. Maybe she’s screaming into a pillow, or in the middle of the street, or on the phone — all we know is that this is a tantrum at its finest.
6. “1999” (with Troye Sivan)
If we know one thing for sure, it’s that Charli loves a good moment of ’90s nostalgia. She paid homage to Clueless in the “Fancy” video, and more recently, re-worked the Spice Girls classic, “Wannabe,” so it only made sense that she penned her own ode to the good ‘ol days. After teaming up with the man of the moment, the two worked together to remind people of only good things: Britney Spears, Nike Airs, CDs, Slim Shady, and staying up all night with no iPhones.
A perfect example of Charli introducing us to new artists we didn’t even know we needed until we heard them spit on a track. Back to the glorious, metallic Pop 2 sounds, “I Got It” is a bouncy “don’t f— with me” cut. Charli doesn’t exert herself too much as she reassures us that she’s got it. “So raw, sushi/ Crash your daddy’s lamborghini,” she says, bringing a sutblety to the otherwise very intense song. Then, that intensity is only amplified when CupcakKe enters. Cue up the distorted bass, please: “So many offers on the table, a bitch gotta eat on the couch.” Don’t worry, they got it.
4. “I Love It” (by Icona Pop)
What kind of list would this be if it didn’t include the song that first sky-rocketed Charli to Top 40 glory? It’s no longer the pillar of her career, as she’s been working hard to move away from it, but it’s still one of her most recognizable and best-loved hits. The buzzing chorus will forever be an anthemic monster, even if it did come out nearly a decade ago.
3. “1 Night” (by Mura Masa)
Like Charli, Mura Masa (also known as Alex Crossan), has collaborated with an impressive list of artists from A$AP Rocky to Christine and the Queens. “1 Night” is a nearly-perfect cut, with Charli appearing slightly softer than usual — both lyrically and vocally — and Crossan putting his steel drum beats to excellent use.
2. “Backseat” ft. Carly Rae Jepsen
A.G. Cook’s production on Pop 2 was remarkable, but it was especially in “Backseat” where he made the clever decision to refrain and let the two frontladies take the lead. “Breakin’ your heart, split it in half/ Told you it all, Year and a half/ Are we in love? I’ll never know,” the two sing, with Charli’s low register and Jepsen’s contrasting high. Vocally, it’s a match made in heaven. They sound like they’re coming from different worlds, but they are really supporting each other, and sharing the realization that maybe they’re “better off alone.”
The best part about this collaboration is how much time Tove Lo and Alma have in the spotlight. Tove starts the first verse and then Alma comes in at the chorus. Charli comes in modestly at the second chorus, leading up to the moment where all three intertwine. Tove’s pure, smooth voice contrasts Charli’s low register and leaves just enough room for Alma’s sultry rasp to tie it all together. The chords are perfect and the beat is so seemingly minimal, it’s really up to the three to carry the track with their voices — and spoiler alert — they succeed. The three team up to scream at some random dude, but then we soon realize the dude doesn’t matter: they’re just having their own party. Now this is how you collaborate.